City collecting traffic data

Information will be used for community plan update

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— People driving through Steamboat this week had their trips count for something.

The city had set up traffic counters throughout and around Steamboat to help estimate traffic flows for the Area Community Plan Update.

Most motorists have probably spotted long black tubing attached to boxes on the sides of the roads this week. Public Works Director Jim Weber said these devices count the number of vehicles by the weight of the tires and size of the vehicles' axles.

The counting is being done after Fourth of July and around Rainbow Weekend to estimate summer traffic flow.

"It is a good representation of summer traffic, but we didn't want Fourth of July weekend. We wanted a good report of what typical summer traffic volumes are," Planning Director Wendie Schulenburg said.

Including Steamboat and a three-mile surrounding area, the count, Schulenburg said, is one of the most comprehensive traffic data collections the city has done. The information is part of the technical data consultants Clarion and Associates are gathering for the community plan update.

More than 20 designated road segments and sections had counters this week, and Weber said they could be found on Lincoln Avenue, U.S. 40, Oak Street, Strawberry Park, Pine Grove Road, County Road 129, Colorado 131 and Tamarack Drive.

In preliminary findings, Clarion and Associates found that 5,000 trips were generated per day entering into west and south of town and 25,000 trips were made per day internally.

This information will most likely be tied with a winter traffic count, which Weber said would take place during the Presidents Day weekend. But Schulenburg said because almost half of winter tourists do not drive once they arrive in Steamboat, the summer counts are the most revealing.

This data will help planners evaluate how growth in outlying areas will affect traffic and how to plan for increased volumes.

"It helps us evaluate traffic when those areas grow out. As it is growing in phases, we can determine what road improvements are necessary and make some critical decisions as to whether to build more roads or look at alternative ways of handling traffic," Schulenburg said.

Those alternative means would be encouraging residents to live, work and shop in the same area and providing more public transit.

Other consultants are also collecting data for the community plan update such as researching historical sites and updating maps.

Schulenburg said all the data for the community plan update should be gathered and analyzed by the end of 2002, and the community plan should go through the public review and approval process at the beginning of next year.

To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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